Rejecting a media report claiming that the Rs 35,000 crore provision in Union Budget for COVID-19 vaccination was for states and not Centre, the Finance Ministry on Monday said it is "factually incorrect" to claim so.
"The amount of Rs 35,000 crore has been shown under the Demand for Grants No. 40, titled 'Transfers to States'. Vaccines have actually been, and are being, procured by and paid for by the Centre through this head of account. The use of this Demand for Grants has several administrative advantages," the ministry said in a statement.
As the expenditure on vaccine is one-off expenditure outside the normal centrally sponsored schemes of the Health Ministry, separate funding ensures easy monitoring and management of these funds. Besides, the grant is exempted from quarterly expenditure control restrictions applicable to other demands, which helps in ensuring that there is no hindrance in the vaccination programme.
"The amount provided under this head for vaccinations is actually operated by the Ministry of Health. Vaccines are passed on to the states as grants in kind and the actual administration of vaccines is being done by states. Further, there is enough administrative flexibility to change the nature of the scheme between grants in kind and other forms of grants," the statement said.
For ensuring adequate availability of funding for vaccination, the budget classification does not really matter. "The use of the Demand titled 'Transfers to States' in no way implies that expenditure cannot be incurred by the Centre," the Finance Ministry said.
Based on a tweet by Praveen Chakravarty, political economist, chairperson - data analytics of the opposition Congress, the report said the Union Budget had made no provision for expenditure on COVID-19 vaccination by Centre.
As with most things about this government, this is also a half truth @ShashiTharoor
There was ZERO provision for Covid vaccination in this year's expenditure of the Centre (see picture).May 9, 2021
Responding to a tweet by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, Chakravarty had tweeted that there was zero provision for expenditure by Centre on COVID-19 vaccination in the Budget.